TUCSON PADRES

Well-traveled Francisco looking for another shot in big leagues

2013-06-21T00:00:00Z Well-traveled Francisco looking for another shot in big leaguesDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Ben Francisco came to the Tucson Padres hoping to get back to the big leagues, of course, but he's also just hungry to swing the bat.

The 31-year-old veteran outfielder has played for six major league teams since 2007 but only has 45 at-bats so far this season.

"It's an opportunity to get out there and play," said Francisco, who hit a pinch-hit RBI double and scored a run in Tucson's 7-5 loss to the Las Vegas 51s on Thursday night. "I haven't played in almost over a month so it will be fun to get back out there and play some baseball."

Francisco, who debuted in 2007, spent the first five seasons of his big league career between the Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies, opened this season with the New York Yankees and played in 21 games before being released by the organization June 4. San Diego signed him to a minor league deal on Tuesday and assigned him to Tucson.

"I had a few options, but I felt like this one was the best for me in a lot of ways," said Francisco, who played with the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays in 2012.

Francisco made his first plate appearance since May 17 on Wednesday night when he pinch hit for Wilfredo Boscan in the bottom of the seventh inning. While he went after the first pitch and was clearly eager to swing the bat, he ended up flying out.

"I hadn't played in a month, and I just wanted to get out there and see where I was at with my hacks and see what happens," Francisco said.

Tucson manager Pat Murphy said he believes it was a good and much-needed move to sign Francisco because of the experience he brings to the table, having played in 580 big league games, including 17 in the postseason.

"Everybody knows he's a winning player," Murphy said. "His experience around the game will really help a lot of other players."

Murphy recruited Francisco when he was coaching at ASU, but Francisco instead went to UCLA. Murphy said he was difficult to play against there and called him the best player on the field most of the time.

"He played with a spirit that catches everybody's eye," Murphy said.

With the experience and attitude Francisco brings, Murphy wouldn't be surprised to see him get back to the major leagues this season. With the Tucson Padres being the fifth organization Francisco has played for since the beginning of last season, another move wouldn't be much.

"Baseball is a crazy game," Francisco said. "You just have to try to adjust in every situation and deal with what the game does to you. I'm trying to do that here and settle down in a new situation."

Inside pitch

• The Tucson Padres and Visit Tucson announced Thursday that the Vamos a Tucson Mexican Baseball Fiesta will be back at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium for the third straight year.

The games will take place Oct. 3-6 and feature the Naranjeros de Hermosillo, Tomateros de Culiacan and Yaquis de Obregon from the Mexican Pacific League and a group of instructional league players from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Today

• Who: Tucson at Reno

• When: 7:05 p.m.

• Radio: 1290-AM

¡Tus Padres!

Las Vegas 51s 7, Tucson 5

• Highlight: Ike Davis led the 51s going 3 for 5 and hitting two long solo home runs.

• Big number: 2 for 16. The Padres (38-36) stranded 13 runners and went 2 for 16 with runners in scoring position.

• Tonight's starters: Tucson LHP Robbie Erlin (5-2, 5.50 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Schwinden (3-6, 6.18 ERA)

Daniel Gaona

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